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The Hidden History of Jews in the American Southwest

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The Hidden History of Jews in the American Southwest

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Wednesday, February 14, 2024 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET
Code: 1H0800
This online program is presented on Zoom.
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Full-page miniature from the Sister Haggadah, Barcelona, 1350

Centuries ago, hidden Jews—often referred to as Crypto-Jews—settled in the American Southwest, and many of their descendants only recently learned of their presumed Jewish ancestry. They are mostly Catholic Hispanics whose roots can be traced to Jews escaping from Spain and Portugal by disguising themselves as Catholics to avoid the Spanish Inquisition.

Because of the generations of secrecy, it wasn’t until the early 1990s that this population discovered its ancestral roots. Since then, many historical and scientific perspectives have been offered regarding who they are by those who believe that they are indeed former Jews and those who assert that they are not and instead offer a case of mistaken identity.

Ori Z. Soltes, a professor of religion at George Washington University, explores how members of this population became aware of their presumed Jewish ancestry and how the questions it raises are relevant to the larger issues of human identity that are part of today's world.

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